Ex Machina follows Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) a brilliant coder who is whisked away to a remote, lavish research facility under the impression he has won a contest to meet the creator of the popular search engine he works for. His brilliant, strange boss, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who engages him in a test of his new product; a hyper realistic Artificial Intelligence named Ava. As the test commences, Caleb soon learns he may be in over his head as his sessions with Ava make him question more than he expected and his gracious host may not be as gracious as he seems.
This deeply psychological/philosophical indie thriller could have easily come off as a pretentious thought piece but its mix of atmospheric and claustrophobic setting and brilliant performances from a very small and very capable cast make this maybe one of my favorite new thrillers. It is intensely smart, asking pivotal questions on the nature of humanity, intellect, and consciousness and instead of providing answers it honestly presents more questions. It has interesting twists that caught me by surprise, and actually faked me out a few times too. Just when you think you know where the plot is taking you it still manages to surprise you.
Let’s all take a real moment to honor the real star of this show, Alicia Vikander. This woman does more acting in just her face than most do with their entire bodies. Her performance as the AI Ava is incredible, and honestly so is the other AI Kyoko who performs in complete silence for the entire run time. The men are okay two, with Oscar Isaac in the alcoholic, sinister genius and Domhnall as the hapless coder who falls for his compelling test subject.
Honestly this is a taut, slow burn of a thriller that really paid off. Mentally engaging, emotionally compelling, and an ending that will stay with you long after the credits roll Ex Machina is a must see film debut from a director I can promise we won’t see the last of. I haven’t seen his follow up film Annihilation yet, but if it is anything like this incredible debut it just jumped the queue. A dark look at humanity, technology, and the horrifying blend that occurs when you force them together, Ex Machina is an imaginative and stylistic thriller that will never let you see Sophia the robot in the same light again.
Amy’s Recommendation: 10/10